The Daily Nole

What to Watch For Wednesday: FSU Volleyball Opens NCAA Tournament

FSU athletics

The 2019 season is already in the rear view for three of the five fall programs for Florida State. A fourth team will try to avoid falling into that category this week.

With golf and swimming and diving on hiatus, the slate for FSU athletics will be smaller in the weeks to come. As is our Wednesday tradition, here’s a look at what’s on the horizon in FSU sports:

1. FSU volleyball faces UCF to open NCAA Tournament
Florida State volleyball will try to hit the 20-win mark for the first time since 2016 on Thursday when it opens the NCAA Tournament in Gainesville against UCF. The Seminoles finished 19-9 during the regular season and 12-6 in ACC play. FSU is led by last season’s ACC Player of the Year, Payton Caffrey, and this season’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Taryn Knuth. Knuth ranked fourth nationally with 1.54 blocks per set.

The American Athletic Conference champion UCF Knights come in with a record of 24-7. When it comes to blocks per set, UCF is behind only Virginia Commonwealth and Florida State nationally. The Knights defeated Cincinnati to win the AAC title on Nov. 24. Sophomore outside hitter McKenna Melville led the Knights in kills this season with 4.55 per set. Against common opponents this year, UCF was 1-1 while FSU was 3-0. The winner of Thursday’s contest moves on to play again Friday against either Alabama State or host and No. 10 national seed Florida. The Gators ended FSU’s 2018 season with a 3-0 victory in Gainesville. Thursday’s match will begin at 4:30 p.m. EST and stream on ESPN3.

2. FSU hoops resumes ACC play
Florida State men’s basketball’s 7-game winning streak came to an end on Tuesday night with an 80-64 road loss to Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but the No. 17 Seminoles will look to even their record in ACC play on Sunday as they host Clemson. FSU lost to Pittsburgh in the season opener and will try to avoid starting 0-2 in conference for the first time since the 2015-16 season. Guards Trent Forrest, Devin Vassell and M.J. Walker all come in averaging in double-figures scoring for FSU.

Clemson will come in with a record of 5-3 and 0-1 in conference. Alabama transfer guard Tevin Mack comes in averaging a team-high 13.8 points and better than five rebounds for the Tigers while shooting better than 51 percent from the field. FSU swept Clemson last season and has won four straight at home over the Tigers. Sunday’s contest begins at 2 p.m. EST and will air on ACC Network.

3. FSU women host Michigan State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Florida State women’s hoops will look to notch a second straight win over a ranked team on Thursday night when it hosts No. 19 Michigan State. The eighth-ranked Seminoles blasted No. 6 Texas A&M in College Station last time out and are 7-0 on the young season. Guards Nicki Ekhomu and Nausia Woolfolk and forward Kiah Gillespie are all averaging at least 15 points per contest. Gillespie ranks fifth in the ACC in rebounding at 9.7 per contest.

Michigan State is off to a 6-1 start with a loss to LSU being the lone blemish. Sophomore guard Nia Clouden comes in averaging better than 15 points per contest to lead the Spartans. Thursday night’s contest begins at 8 p.m. EST and airs on ACC Network. FSU will then begin ACC play on Sunday at Clemson.

4. FSU football’s coaching search continues
It’s been the talk of the town in Tallahassee, but Florida State still does not have a head football coach. The Seminoles fired Willie Taggart following a 27-10 loss to Miami early last month after just 21 games. FSU has since gone 2-1 under interim head coach Odell Haggins. Haggins’ name has been associated with the permanent job, but everything else seems up in the air. There are some that hold out hope that former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops would be interested in a return to the coaching ranks. Other names associated with the opening include Penn State’s James Franklin, Memphis’ Mike Norvell and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell. With conference title games wrapping up this weekend, there is speculation an announcement could come soon.

5. FSU football to learn bowl destination
After missing a bowl game for the first time in 37 years last season, FSU finished the regular season with a record of 6-6 to become bowl-eligible for the 37th time in 38 years. The Seminoles will find out their bowl location on Sunday. Possible destinations include the Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit), Birmingham Bowl, Independence Bowl (Shreveport) and Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa). FSU topped Southern Mississippi 42-13 in the Independence Bowl two years ago. FSU has never played in any of the other three, although it has played bowl games in Birmingham and Tampa in the past.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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